Wednesday, October 19, 2011
When my kids were teenagers with mutinous attitudes, I couldn't wait for them to move out so that I could have some peace and quiet from the angst of their hormonal mood swings. No more six foot laundry piles, wet towels "drying" on the bathroom floor, dirty dishes stashed under bunk beds and closests overflowing with mismatched shoes, bags, and discarded pizza boxes. No more blaring TV sets in every room, speakers pumping rap music in decibels loud enough to make my ears bleed, and a refrigerator that should have been outfitted with a turnstile door to accomodate my children's insatiable appetites.
Sure enough, the first batch of chics graduated from high school and off to college they went, leaving behind their unmade beds and a few stray socks. The first month they were gone, I reveled in the lighter work load around the house, even though I still had a few younger chics in the nest to attend to. At least I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Soon after the newness of my older children's absence wore off, I started missing them. Badly. I missed the loud dinner conversations, the parade of young friends coming in and out of the house at all hours...everything just seemed so...quiet. I contemplated getting another pet to add to the menagerie of rescue animals I already had. I grew up in a household full of exotic animals (my sister worked at the Wild Bird Care Center, so you name it we had it---owls, bats, a vulture and a hawk, just to name a few), so when my kids were little, we did the usual fish-turtle-hamster-guinea pig thing. Unfortunately, none of those animals had very long life spans and we had to give the turtles away (my son's room smelled like a swamp) along with the guinea pig (we discovered two things about him---he didn't like to be tickled under the chin and he had very sharp teeth). Pretty soon people caught on that we had a soft spot for all types of animals, and next thing we knew, our house had turned into an animal shelter (or a zoo, depending on how you looked at it). A rabbit, an albino rat, a pigmy hedgehog, sugar glider and several chinchillas found their way home to us. Then we started on the rescue dogs. Every time a child moved out, an animal moved in, thus earning me the title of "Animal Hoarder" from my husband. I explained to him that I still had the need to nurture something. He told me to buy a plant. I blamed it on menopause---told him I was depressed and in need of love and affection. He said he gave me plenty of love and attention and that if I was sad, I should eat more chocolate. When I told him I was a kind, compassionate person for taking in all the stray animals, he told me the word "sucker" was stamped on my forehead at birth. I may have been suckered into adopting some of these animals, but I truly feel this is the best place for them to be. I've got one on heart meds, one on hair loss meds, and another in a diaper. Hmmm...sounds like I'm running a nursing home. I don't regret taking in these little boarders---they're like family to me (except they don't drink all my wine and gossip about me when I leave the room) and I'll do whatever it takes to keep them comfortable and happy. Having them in my life actually does ease the depression when my hormones feel out of whack. At least I don't have to worry about them behind the wheel of a car when they turn sixteen or contemplate where the funds for their college tuition will come from. But my husband does have fears---fear of what will come next after the last two kids leave the nest. A koala bear? Ostrich? Donkey? In this house, you never know....